The show which starts off with a simple high school teacher entering the world of crime, blood and violence; completely turns the tables on us as we see the lead protagonist turn into something of a force to be reckoned with. His family, his relationships and all his past friendships are affected after he makes a life-changing decision to enter into the meth empire. Truly a show which changes gears as it progresses and horrifyingly depicts the journey of this one man through all the highs and the many lows.
The show arguably has one of the greatest pilot episodes I have ever seen. It introduces us to Walter White’s regular; boring life. He has a disabled kid, a mortgage on the house, a brother-in-law in the DEA and is basically over-qualified to be working at a high school. But the world has not been kind to him; finally causing him to take action once he finds out he does not have long to live.
What follows is a brilliantly plotted story by creator, Vince Gilligan; who manages to bestow upon a world centring around the main narrative of Walt’s personality; his ego. Out of all the things said and done; no bullet, drug or villain has been more menacing than Walter White himself. He is the master of his own destruction; sucking in the likes of his partner, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) with him.
This show isn’t so much about drugs and violence it’s more about an under-achieving man who has finally has found his path in life.
It is as dark and gory as it is smart and well-planned out; perfectly building up to 5 seasons of chaos and turmoil through the decisions that Walter seeks to make. All to give us an epic, violent and possibly the best last season to a show till date. It takes us through all the emotions as we grow close with these characters; who have experienced so much change over the last few years of their lives.
The screenplay for the episodes were written by a bunch of writers; but none other than Vince Gilligan had the last say. What is brilliant about the writing is that it does not try to be something it isn’t; at the end of the day Walter is a family man trying to make money for his kids and that’s how his character starts out.
Slowly as we are introduced to new characters such as Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and many more; we see the world growing bigger with it. The writing respects the actors as well; playing to their strengths and giving them enough room to work with the lines in hand. A show that can be so crisp and precise with the dialogue for characters like Walt and Gus; also showcases light-hearted and funnier moments from characters like Skinny Pete and Jesse Pinkman. But lines such as, “I am the one who knocks” or “Say my name” are quoted by fans to this day. Just goes to show how much weight even ordinary lines have when put into context with the current scenes of the show.
Another beautiful aspect of the writing is that Vince believes in show not tell. So many times we are given vital information not through words; but through symbols or objects or simply glances; allowing viewers to feel involved with this brilliant story.
Characters and acting
We cannot look past Bryan Cranston who plays Walter White when it comes to acting. His every dialogue, every glance is delivered to perfection. What is also something to note; is how his acting changed in relation to his character’s development. Earlier on he played the part of the timid. Guy with something to prove so well; only to become a Tony Montana-esque character. Absolutely ruthless and menacing with his delivery; he does not allow you to lose attention for even a second. Thus, it is no surprise that he won 4 Emmy’s for best actor; proving just how good he is.
Anna Gunn as Skylar. Was another brilliant addition to this cast. She was perfect in her role as Walt’s wife and some of her scenes such as swimming in the swimming pool and yelling at her sister are moments fan will never forget. Aaron Paul as Jesse was incredible; having to depict the life of a drug addict who was grieving throughout the show. His portrayal from a young and ignorant junkie to a broken man who was faced so much hardship is truly a delight to watch.
Other notable actors were Bob Odenkirk playing the notorious, wise-mouth Saul Goodman and Giancarlo Esposito playing the menacing Gus Fring. Each and every single actor was perfect; many winning Emmy’s for their brilliant portrayals and adding to the aura of this great show.
Music and cinematography
What is very different about this show is that Gilligan actually chose different colour grades to depict different emotions. Often at times; intros would be completely silent with no music; often lit up in different colours such as yellow, pink or even black and white.
Gilligan used the colour pink to depict the innocence of the characters; notable in instances with the teddy bear in the pool; Walt’s kid and even Jesse’s last name. The showrunner also used black and white grading schemes to depict a few flashbacks; allowing viewers to differentiate from the past and the present.
Another brilliant thing about the cinematography was that camera angles were used to foreshadow moments of character development. In one episode we saw Walt adopt the mannerisms of Gus; his long-time rival as we saw him lying on the ground at the same angle as his nemesis. It is not often that you get to see subtle glances like this; which elevate the show even further.
Although the show did not use much music; it waited 5 whole seasons to provide fans with a remix of the theme song which was featured in the penultimate episode. Each moment was thrilling to watch; leaving us with Goosebumps at the end of episodes.
Breaking Bad is not just another great show. It is a masterpiece in the world of television; showcasing brilliant acting, directing, writing and everything else. It takes it time to build up its characters and gets darker and ruthless by the season. It’s fair to say; this may be the greatest television show of all time.